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Trichomoniasis (pronounced trick-oh-mon-eye-a-sis) is infection with Trichomonas vaginalis. This is not a type of bacterium; it is a microscopic organism consisting of a single cell, like an amoeba. Under the microscope, it looks a rather attractive creature, because it swims around in a wobbly and rotating fashion, waving its four tiny antennae.

In the UK, trichomoniasis has become less common (whereas most other sexually transmitted infections have increased). No one knows why.

How is trichomoniasis transmitted?

Trichomoniasis is sexually transmitted. It does not always cause symptoms, so people may not know that they are carrying it. In fact, most men and about half of all women with Trichomonas have no symptoms themselves, but can unknowingly pass it on to someone else.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

  • Trichomoniasis seems to be most common in young sexually-active women, and in women nearing the menopause. In about half the women who have it, Trichomonas causes no symptoms. In the other half, it causes a foul-smelling discharge. The vulva (area round the opening of the vagina) is often itchy and sore. Passing urine may be painful.
  • Men commonly have no symptoms, or they may notice burning when they pass urine and/or a discharge from the urethra (pee hole).

What you should do

  • To relieve the itching and discomfort, put a couple of handfuls of salt in a bath of warm water, and sit in it for a while. If passing urine is painful, it may help to pee into the bath water. The salt bath will help symptoms, but will not get rid of the Trichomonas.
  • See a doctor for treatment with metronidazole tablets. You should not drink alcohol while you are taking it. It is a good idea to go to a genitourinary medicine clinic, because the clinic will be able to test you straight away, and tell you whether or not you have Trichomonas, and give you the treatment. The clinic will also be able to check for other infections, which are quite common in people with trichomoniasis.
  • If metronidazole does not clear the infection, other treatments can be used, such as tinidazole (Prescriber 2006;17:2942)
  • Your partner will also need to be checked and treated, and you should not have sex until both of you have completed the treatment.

If you are pregnant

Trichomonas infection can cause a premature birth, so doctors are keen to treat it if you are pregnant. However, there have been worries about using metronidazole in pregnancy, so a low dose is used.

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Friday, February 12th 2010


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Comments on this article

Posted by diamond on 15/12/2015 at 02:37

I have been bleeding for the past 2 months none stop and I went to two different doctors one put me on birth control to regulate my period so that wasn't working I went to the second doctor he told me I had Trich so that's why I'm bleeding I heard of the itching and foul smell but I had none of them Symptoms.. I been matried for 4yrs and sleeping with the same person for 7 I don't believe he's cheating.. They give me medicine but no him anit something wrong with that? Or maybe I should get a third Opinion

Posted by Optional on 15/04/2015 at 04:59

i have been suffering from labia itch for more than 2 months now. i have a lesbian lover who gives me a very good oral sex. she is very hygienic and has a good dental hygiene. she makes sure she is clean and fresh before taking me on. can oral sex be the cause of this itchiness?

Posted by Optional on 01/03/2015 at 03:49

For the past 9-10 months I have had sores that are recurrent, in fact present all the time. Have been tsted for STDs, diabetes etc - all negative.These sore are like pimples you get on face, some bad ones ooze disgusting amount of pus..they are on the top and rim of the outer labia. thre are some bumps in the mucosal area as well. I am tired of going to doctors since I feel its getting worse since I went for the first check up. Could someone suggest me which other tests I could ask the doc for?

Posted by Optional on 24/12/2014 at 12:53

I had started dating a man 5 years after my divorce. He was just getting divorced. There were occasional signs of infidelity over our two year relationship. However, being a deacon at his church and vehemently denying cheating on me, i just continued sleeping with him. I recently contracted trich from him because he is the only man I have slept with in over two years. My pelvis was so inflamed. I am so angry because i believe he KNEW he had this, got treated, and never told me!!! I don't ever want to speak to him again. I am hurt and embarassed big time!!!

Posted by Optional on 06/09/2014 at 01:46

Doing a good job

Posted by Lizard on 25/11/2013 at 01:58

*Everyone* needs to understand that the male test for Trich is very poor! And it is infrequently administered. So even women who are in monogamous relationships, with non-cheating partners may still be ping ponging it back and forth. Basically, men can harbor this disease, asymptomatically for life. Only women and the unborn are affected, really, sometimes to severe, life altering degrees. Because it is not profitable to treat, and men arent' affected, the medical industry is not giving it attention. Here are some things that help, out side of flagyl or tindamax: Reducing ph , hydrogen peroxicide, benadine (iodine solution), MMS, sea salt soak, soap nuts, probiotics, oxygen and ozone therpies. Google around for more info on what is right for you. Don't give up. We are all in this together, ladies.

Posted by Optional on 20/02/2013 at 03:19

I read that Trichomonasis is unlikely but possible through water - one source - This is very possible because my boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years - we could of had it from people before but we haven't cheated on each other. Medical professionals have treated me badly in a judgemental way though - has anyone else had this experience?

Posted by Cinndy on 07/11/2012 at 07:15

I have a foul smelling discharge and been to doctors and they ve done pap smear,pipepillo and many other tests. I used vaginal douche, feminine soaps e.g Gyna Guard. Douche with diluted vinegar,salted water nothing helps. This is making my life miserable. Anyone who knows what is it that can help. Ive tried different antibiotics nothing works. Done HIV test and came back negative.

Posted by Confused27 on 22/09/2012 at 07:35

I was told I had trich by a doctor and she gave me the metro pills, and I told my fiance that I had it and that he needed to get tested(blood, urine and swabbed his mouth),BUT when he called to get his results she told him that he was clear of EVERYTHING. I mean, what the hell. was it a mistake on me or him?? & no we wasnt cheating on each other.

Posted by letitbesomeone on 17/08/2012 at 05:43

Last July, I had yeast infection so the doctor gave me anti-thrush cream. i felt better after that. few weeks ago, I had yellowish-green discharge and it only occured in one day. i went to see the doctor again and she told me to use the anti-thrush cream. on the 2nd day after using the cream, my vulva starts to feel itchy and slightly burning. what should i do? please help me. I'm so worried. :(

Posted by Optional on 08/05/2012 at 04:59

This site is very useful, but some pictures could help as well and a bit of further information without distroying the simplicity of this article, making it hard to undesrtand :) please... i love this site

Posted by Optional on 10/08/2011 at 10:26

can you get trichomoniasis from shaving your vagina and how can you get the pain to go away?

Posted by Lisa on 27/03/2011 at 09:02

I have been diagnosed with trich twice. Once I was 21 and again last year. I have only been with 2 partiners since then. I am married and we were both treated for it. I didn't cheat and I am positive he didn't either but now its been just over a year and I have itching. Is it possible that its trich and if so why does it keep coming back. Help please

Posted by Anonymous on 01/03/2011 at 06:08

Hey im 16 and I get an irritating itch down there.. It burns n sometimsz I cant even sleep because of it.. I used to get it when I was younger but it stopped. I recently started havin sex almost a year ago everything was good at first but then it came back and it always goes away n comes back again. I get it after my period and when I have sex with my boyfriend it doesnt feel good even if im wet... It will start ro burn hurt and itch. Please help me.. I need to know whats wrong

Posted by emily on 18/02/2011 at 07:25

if you think you have this then go to the clinic - you get the test the same day and the nurses and doctos are really nice - im so glad i got tested as i have unprotected sex once i told him to use a condom but he just got on top of me it was an unpleasant experience - he said he was clean - but doesnt like condoms - that doesnt sound good does it ? anyway 0 got tablets and 7 days course and then it will be clear - im in a lot of pain and i have discharge its been like this for two weeks - doctor said it was thrush but i wasnt convinced !! its not easy telling them about your sex life - but everyone has sex ! so get to the clinic if your worried - you will feel a lot better once its over !!

Posted by Jacky on 06/08/2010 at 08:45

I have this problem. I have a yellowish discharge but its not sticky its just like urine. And i have a vaginal itching too. Im so worried about this. Im afraid if this a STD, since i have unprotected sex. Im really afraid

Posted by Optional on 07/05/2010 at 02:22

My embarrassing problem is that i had a greenish discharge. And everything ive read about it says you catch it from having unprotected sex. But the thing is i have never had unprotected sex!!

Posted by natasha on 21/03/2010 at 04:45

my embrassing thing about my vaginal area is that the skin on the front part is long can anything be done on the NHS about this because it is causeing me problems and irritation and sometimes painful?


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